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04 October 2009


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The squib in the Times now says that eight soldiers were killed by tribal militia.

With all respect to those who know more about this than I do, I am forced to assume that those are the tribal militia who pose a threat to the United States.

I suppose that, seeing young people are being killed defending us from these tribal militia that I should know, as a voter and an educated person, what the nature of that threat is. I don't. I'm under the impression that it was Saudi's who flew planes into the World Trade Center, but we are not at war with Saudi Arabia. In fact, they are among our closest allies.

So, in ignorance, I am forced to ask what tribal militia in Afghanistan have to do with protecting the continental United States from attack.


Dear Colonel,

Before the discussion focuses solely on the logistics/situational aspects, I draw attention to the "human terrain."

"...that would be the first step to making them better people..."

I always distrust enormously - and nothing makes me grumpier - than someone who wants to make me a better person (versus my own decisions). It escapes my imagination how a foreign military is going to make "better people."

Robert C.

Blatent colonialism...white man's burden to help the natives...your tax dollars at work.



"I'm under the impression that it was Saudi's who flew planes into the World Trade Center"


Masterminded by a Pakistani Baluchi working under UBL, Khalid Sheikh Muhammed, Saudis supplied the muscle, the pilots were Egyptitan, UAE, Lebanese.

The Smart strategy would have been to keep Al-Qai'da's head down while getting troops out of Muslim lands and addressing the Israeli occupation of Gaza & the West Bank which fuels AQ.

Instead of addressing the issues which fuel AQ, Dubya's administration poured gasoline on the fire by occupying the muslim countries of Iraq & Afghanistan and giving Sharon a free hand in Palestine. Duh


Good question! Tribal militia sounds like it is probably native Afghanis who would like us to leave? Kind of like the native Americans were "tribal militia" who wanted the white man to go.

I like the way the language gets all scrambled. Are the taliban, al qaeda and tribal militia different individual groups or are they mixed and matched and lumped together?

I sincerely grieve for these young men and their families.


It seems that LTC William Ostlund is now Col. William Ostlund.

N. M. Salamon


Sorry off topic Oct 4, 2009:
Rep Ron Paul at http://www.juancole.com/
talking on IRan - opposes neocon ideas



When I was at FOB Salerno in Khost we had a battalion plus there. When we went out, we realised that we could only pick fights if we traveled in a platoon formation. However, we had two Delta company (heavy weapons) up armor humvees with us, a group of sappers, and a 60 mm mortar. As well as air support and 105mm howitzers.

I don't know what is going on in Afghanistan, to be honest. My battalion commander, LT COL Glenn, was a great leader and would never put us in a shitty situation like this one in Wanat.

Where did they find this guy?


I have yet to read or hear a reasonable explanation of why there are ANY conventional U.S. forces in Afghanistan. If the post 9/11 goal is to protect America from attack, why can't the countries that harbor anti-American belligerents be attended to by a combination of Intelligence and Special Forces operations?


I’ll leave the tactical review to those more knowledgeable about infantry actions, but there are few telling things I gather from this report:
“A few days after the platoon arrived, a Wanat village elder gave Brostrom a list of Afghans who had been killed in a helicopter attack the previous week. The dead included insurgents but also several local medical personnel who had worked closely with U.S. soldiers.”
"It was a population I really had a hard time understanding and did not respect," (Lt. Col. William Ostlund). What is it that the LTC does not understand? Why these people of the Waygal Valley would work for Americans or why they would be pissed of over their relatives being killed by Americans? There are echoes of the arrogance of the King’s officers in the Colonies prior to Lexington and Concord in his attitude.

"Americans are hard to dislike for an extended period of time," he said. "I really believe that." If you had killed any of my family I would not be ‘liking’ you for a long, long, time. Of course here I can have the sheriff arrest you, the attorney general prosecute you and the Governor keep you in a prison for years. I gather in Wanat you get your gun and plan on how to shoot the SOBs who killed your kin. Kind of like happened on the American frontier. What part of that is hard for LTC Ostlund to understand?


they were probably thinking the same thing:

"But I really did believe that they needed to be connected to the central government and that would be the first step to making them better people, less of a threat to themselves and Afghanistan United States."


Not respecting this population? A bad idea indeed. Compare Kipling's "Ballad of East and West" (set not far away). Perhaps LTC Ostlund didn't like them, but that's another matter.


I was struck by the WaPo's bland admittance that White Phosphorous was being used as a weapon -- and then they followed it up with what must've been a story from the father, who asked his son if the people he dropped the WP on might not've been civilians, collecting the bodies of the dead.

The son's response was sad, but not surprising.


The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are a distraction. But from what?


A short question for the New York Fed

Currently, many Americans are still watching the NFL on Sunday and going to the mall afterwards. What they don't realize and perhaps don't care about is that their children are being sold into slavery. I suppose their willingness to have their children killed by tribal militia in Afghanistan says something about how much they care.

The American educational system has completely and utterly failed.

Res ipsa loquitur.

Clifford Kiracofe

From the WAPO article:
"A few weeks before Brostrom was killed, a military historian asked him about the successes he had witnessed in Nurestan province, where he had spent most of his tour. He gave a prescient reply.

"It is almost a lost cause up in Nurestan," he said flatly. "There needs to be a lot more than just a platoon there if you want to make a big difference." He thought some more about his frustrating tour, leading the 40-man 2nd Platoon of Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team."...

1. Some organizational data on 173rd with photo of Ostlund:

2. Some further data from Foreign Policy website: "Underscoring the hazy grasp Ostlund and his subordinates had of COIN, the report says, they were precise about the number of engagements they had, and even the number of bombs and missiles fired, but were 'unable to provide commensurate statistics' for their efforts to actually help the local population...."


"U.S.: Insurgents knew of Kunar operation
By Drew Brown, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Friday, May 23, 2008

ASADABAD, Afghanistan — Enemy fighters knew that U.S. and Afghan troops were coming in by helicopter to three of the five locations they flew into during a recent combat operation in central Kunar province, a U.S. commander said.

"(Anti-Afghan Force) commanders knew we were coming into the valleys," said Lt. Col. William Ostlund, commander of 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment.

"Enemy commanders didn’t know when U.S. and Afghan forces were coming, nor did they know the precise locations of the helicopter landing zones, "but they knew we were coming, and they started to leave" before the operation started, Ostlund said...." http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=55016

4."William Ostlund, BGS, lives in Fort Benning, Ga., and is a colonel in the U.S. Army, serving as deputy commander of the 75th Ranger Regiment. He has participated in Operation Desert Shield/Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. He also has traveled to the Balkans 12 times and served or trained in more than 30 countries. He also has earned a master of arts degree in law and diplomacy from Tufts University, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He is married with three sons."


According to reports, ten (not eight) men were killed. However, only eight were from the U.S.A.


A little research shows the average income in Afghanistan being anywhere from $300 to $700 USD. For $100,000 you can hire 100 afghans for a year. If you bring in heavy equipment and outsiders they'll complete the project in a few weeks and the locals go back to being unemployed. Given the reported $1.4million projects for Wanat alone I have to ask: what the hell they are doing with the money? Apparently the the 'contractors' in Kabul got their cut, as we can assume many in Karzai's government did, too. Perhaps we should take a page from the Taliban book and go to the contractors and the provincial governor for some 'zakat'; as in hire the locals or you better buy yourself another armored mercedes….


What I find most peculiar about the discussion of America's recent "wars" is the persistence of faith in counter-insurgency doctrine. Apart from the British success in Malaya, which defeated an unpopular rebellion by an ethnic faction, COIN has been an overwhelming failure. Why should Afghanistan be any different? We might as well rely on astrologers as on the COIN "professionals."

Dan M

The Malaya example always drives my nuts. A small minority of the population (the Chinese) were in the insurgency. The Malays and Indians hated them, and were terrified of Chinese communism. Key facts, these.


Not Taliban, Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's old crew, and when US Forces first moved into Nuristan, they were suckered into taking sides in a tribal war over resources.


Aqaba. Aqaba, from the land.



Since we are discussing Charlie Company where I served for a year, but it is now called Chosen Company, I have to belatedly jump in my comments. The mission of the 2nd battalion today is identical to 40 years ago; pacify an occupied agrarian population. Today, apparently with less success because they have to be supplied by air, our beer was brought in by truck. But, then as now, as soon as the American troops left the valley, any fiction that the people are as under the central [puppet] government control was gone.

The term “Long War: accurately describes the American occupation of Afghanistan. If the 2nd battalion is pulled back into Kabul; sooner or later the supply lines will be cut. The War Profiteers and the Kagan Family have to muddle the facts. The Obama Administration has two stark choices; withdraw or send in a million boots on the ground. There are no compromises in war. The only viable strategy that will not bankrupt the USA is isolation and containment of religious fanatics and energy independence.


"Hard time understanding", "did not respect", "make them better people", "ignorant", all used by the mighty Americans to describe the Afgan fighters who want the occupiers out. It's the British Emprise deja vu all over again. Talk about hubris!


Last night on the News Hour, I think it was, the loss was blamed on a lack of choppers, logistics, and a lack of support by the Afghans. Nothing about the decision to post and leave those few troops out there so long.


Wash post seem to source this:


Path to Aqaba:

"It takes more than a compass Englishman."


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